Brahminy Kite altercation with House Crow

posted in: Interspecific, Raptors | 4

“The resident Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus intermedius) came by our area to forage at around 10am. This is the same raptor I posted some time ago with feathers missing from a fight (still evident bilaterally) LINK.

“As it flew around (minding its own business) a House Crow (Corvus splendens) zoomed in to attack it, possibly nesting in the nearby angsana trees (Pterocarpus indicus). Witnessed an aerial battle/altercation that lasted 2-3 minutes, until the Brahminy Kite gave up and left.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
25th April 2010

Tou Jing Yi has this to say: “The length of the bill-to-tail of the crow seemed to be slightly longer than the Kite, the Kite is measured to be falling within range of 44-52 (Robson), and House Crow 40-43, so the crow should be consistently smaller than the kite. I suspect your crow could have been Large-billed. Seems that bill thickness could vary a bit according to individual and how good you are viewing it.

“Here’s a clear shot of the pale parts for a House Crow that is also mobbing the same species of kite LINK.

“We can see that the House Crow have a far smaller head compared to your photo with ratio to the head of the kite.”

“In flight, crows are very hard to be told apart from the size estimation, it is hard, the calls are better, the calls of the Large-billed are deeper than those of the House.”

4 Responses

  1. Daisy O'Neill

    My honourable colleagues,

    We need to also consider optical illusion, angle of photography, lighting conditions that do play tricks to the eyes and cloud our judgement.

    Identifying flying objects in the air using visual measurements on images as such, may not be actually very accurate and may I say risky.
    I do agree knowing the calls of the different species helps but what if the crow species kept quiet that day of observation?

    Perhaps the mention of just ‘corvus species’ might just save the day.
    Nice pictures. I am not able to take shots like that with my digiscope.

    Daisy O’Neill

  2. Daisy O'neill

    Hi Amar,

    You are welcome. A birder of your calibre and knowledge who observes intently in the field usually would be the best judge of the day may I say.

    The ability to get those shots itself so challenging and is appreciated.

    I hate to think and I will have sleepless nights to be careless enough to write an article with a wrong bird identification. OMG hope it doesn’t happen to any contributors!


    • Tou Jing Yi

      hi Daisy,

      I was just bringing up the suspect because the House Crow did not seemed to establish itself in the Ipoh region until where it became very successful, such as the Penang area and Klang Valley area, as well as JB area that received the spread from Singapore side. I had personally seen a few crows that “looks like” House Crow in flight from a distance but when they perch or call, are usually Large-billed, so it is quite challenging to ID these crows in flight. However, there are in fact either escapee or very rare resident of House Crows in Ipoh, at least I had saw and photographed 1 before just near my house, the size comparison is only helpful when the local Large-billed pair flew in to chase the lonely House Crow away, you would be able to notice the size difference when they come into contact in the air, or else, often quite hard to tell, so I do think sometimes we are forced to put some label as Corvus sp. or Raptor sp. or “probably House Crow” in many scenario that we knew we can’t gain exact answers. From my experience, a good majority of Large-billed Crows seen flying past often give out the calls, but at places with House Crows, those at perch are noisy enough, so I didnt quite pay attention on if the flying ones are giving out calls or not.

      I do hope some birders will have the tendency to question the correctness of identification, I find that this practice could be essential, if you hope to find a new species to be recorded in the region, that is how some birders like Dave Bakewell managed to find so many new species over the years for P. Malaysia, simply because he study every picture so well to check for possibilities of overlooked identities.


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